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Rediff.com  » Sports » Red Bull have learned their lessons

Red Bull have learned their lessons

May 09, 2011 15:03 IST

While champions Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel showed in Turkey that they had learned their lessons, the question now is whether Formula One itself needs to do more revision.

With four stops the new norm at Istanbul on Sunday, there was more pitlane action and overtaking than ever.

That revived debate afterwards about whether the new rules and tyre specification had made passing too easy and races too confusing.

Red Bull were celebrating anyway, their first one-two finish of the season following the disappointment of 23-year-old Vettel losing out on strategy to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton at the previous race in China.

It also came a year after Red Bull squandered a similar one-two when both their drivers collided while fighting for the lead at Istanbul Park. Neither mistake was ever in danger of being made again on Sunday.

Sebastian VettelChina had highlighted the advantage to be gained by keeping back a new set of soft tyres in qualifying, just as Hamilton had done in Shanghai, and Red Bull and others took notice.

"I think what's clear in this racing is that qualifying is probably the least critical thing now and having a good race set-up with the correct number of (sets of) tyres is the most important thing," said Ross Brawn, boss of rivals Mercedes GP.

Vettel still secured pole position by a huge margin, despite being out of his car before the end of the session while others were still trying to beat him, and controlled the race with considerable ease.

"I am very happy with how we communicated during the race and how we reacted," he said after his third win in four races. "I think since China we have definitely made a step forward.

"We have learned our lesson and we have to make sure that we keep this momentum into the next couple of races."

OVERTAKING CONUNDRUM

While fans are getting more action than ever, the end result remains the same. Red Bull still have the fastest car and Vettel is beating everybody with it.

The champion now has 93 points out of a possible 100 and is 34 clear of Hamilton in second.

Each race has had different characteristics, leaving the strategists with plenty to work on, but there are concerns.

The new driver-activated moveable rear wing (DRS) has opened up overtaking possibilities but the positioning of the zone where it can be used is critical. Get it wrong, and passing becomes far less of a challenge.

"For sure we have never seen so many pitstops and so much overtaking," said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali.

"It is difficult to follow sometimes, and also difficult for the guys to manage because when you do eight pitstops for the team it is quite heavy and the pressure is high and you may have mistakes. It could be dangerous in certain situations."

The season-opener in Australia saw Sauber's Sergio Perez do just one stop, Vettel had two in China to Hamilton's winning three while Istanbul saw a flurry of pit action.

"It's difficult to produce a tyre that is a two stopper everywhere, because tracks are different," said Vettel.

"But I think the real hard time is really for the spectators in the grandstand.

"After the first stint, especially when you have pit stops every 10 to 15 laps, I think it makes it really difficult for the people coming here to visit and to watch, to follow," added the sport's youngest champion.

"It's obviously very early to judge, because we've only had four races and (in) one race it was possible to one-stop. Here it was possible to four-stop, so we need to see as we go and wait a couple of races."

In China, Red Bull's Mark Webber went from 18th on the grid to third at the chequered flag as others struggled with their tyres. On Sunday, he started second yet faced a real battle with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to keep his position.

"He dropped back to (Nico) Rosberg, made a great move to get ahead of him, but worked the tyres pretty hard to do that," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

"That sort of pushed us into doing a four stop strategy with him and then obviously he ended up racing Alonso."

The Australian left little doubt which race had been more satisfying for him, with less overtaking definitely more fun.

"A lot more people probably enjoyed my China drive than I did, to be honest," he said.

"It's not very rewarding in terms of how you pass them. These guys have absolutely nothing to fight back with, so it (China) was a podium which of course I took.

" Of course I had to drive well, consistently on the limit, but...today was a different type of race. It was just fighting with Fernando, with just one guy."

 

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